The Namibia National Netball Association (ANNA) was dealt a blow when its South African counterparts declined its participation in the four-day Diamond League, which kicked off last week.
The event was launched by South African Minister of Sports, Fikile Mbalula.
ANNA’s secretary-general (SG), Dalene Coetzee, told The Villager Sports that they had contacted the South African Netball Association on 25th June, requesting to participate in the Diamond League but South Africa declined, even after ANNA declared it would foot its own accommodation and transport costs.
“Following the withdrawal of Tanzania that was part of the four nations invited, we once again wrote to our counterparts in South Africa to consider our initial request; instead, they opted to invite Zambia,” said Coetzee.
The clearly disappointed secretary-general does not clearly know the reasons why South Africa adamantly refused to have Namibia in the competition.
Countries invited to partake in the Diamond League, which is Mbalula’s brainchild, (according to a newpaper article made public last week) are Malawi, Botswana and Zambia. They will compete against the Spar Proteas.
However, despite the rejection by South Africa, the secretary-general has welcomed South African Sports Minister’s announcement of a newly fledged professional netball league by April 2013.
“We will continue engaging our South African counterparts and find a way to benefit from the professional league like having some of our players compete in that league,” said Coetzee.
On the possibility of professionalising the Namibian league, the pessimistically said, Namibia has a very long way to go and that currently, the Association is struggling to secure credible sponsorship and little has been forthcoming from Government.
“Despite the situation, we really want to host a three-nations tournament and if the negotiations that we currently have become successful, then the three-nations tournament shall become a reality,” stressed Coetzee.
She added that they are awaiting response from the International Federation of Netball Associations (Ifna) to know whether or not they would avail umpires to officiate the envisaged three-nations tournament later this year.
Coetzee added, ANNA is struggling to get local umpires to officiate at domestic netball events even at school netball tournaments because of the fee they demand for their services.
“We definitely need money to establish a league that would match the calibre of our local football league or even to have a semi-professional netball league,” reiterated Coetzee.
She admitted that the dream seems far-fetched but nothing is impossible.